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Lucy Stock is a columnist for the Irish News

Teeth Could Be At The Root of Your Migraines

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 04.09.2013

It’s National Migraine Week and it’s estimated that a staggering 190,000 people suffer through a migraine attack each day in the UK and this leads’ to a whopping 25 million days lost from work or school because of migraines every year. 

With depression being three times more common in people with migraines than in healthy individuals this week is National Migraine week which aims to encourage those affected to seek the support and treatment they need. 

Migraines are typically felt as a moderate to severe throbbing pain on one side of your head that lasts from a few hours to a few days. They usually make you feel nauseous and you may also be sensitive to light and sounds. In some people a visual aura may come before the headache, which can appear as flickering objects at the edge of your sight. Studies have shown that many things including genetics, foods and hormones play a part in migraines. Migraines occur when the Trigeminal nerve, which innervates the blood vessels and lining of the brain, becomes irritated causing a release of chemicals resulting in the pain and throbbing sensation. The trigeminal nerve also supplies the jaw joint, jaw muscles, teeth, sinuses and joins with the nerves in the upper neck. For this reason jaw joint, bite and neck problems often trigger migraines.

Migraines can roughly be split into two groups – with or without a visual aura. Migraines without visual disturbance auras can be brought on by excessive stimulation of the Trigeminal nerve. This can occur in people who grind their teeth or even if the teeth don’t feel like they fit together properly which leads to the nerve being continually ‘fired up’. By reducing the excessive stimulation of the trigeminal nerve you can significantly reduce or eliminate migraines without aura and avoid the need to take strong anti-migraine medications. If you are prone to grinding your teeth, have worn sensitive teeth, pain in your jaw joint or teeth that frequently break you could have bite problems that may be the cause of your migraines if you’re a sufferer. It’s important to get a good diagnosis of the cause of your migraine first. If the migraine is due to bite problems a dentist can make a bite tester appliance which can see if the teeth or jaw joint is the problem and then deliver the appropriate treatment.